Spurt in stubble burning with 1,400 cases over two days across Punjab
The sudden spurt has meant that till October 22, we have already had an increase of 25% in stubble burning cases over 3,214 cases reported in the corresponding period last year. Overall, 2018 saw 50,000 cases, which was a 10% fall over 2017.Updated: Oct 23, 2019 13:14 IST
The start to the Diwali week could not have been worse this year, as far as stubble burning is concerned.
On Monday and Tuesday, 1,400 cases were reported (over 50% of what had been reported this entire season, previously) taking the total for this kharif season to 4,036, the state remote sensing department said. On Monday, 825 cases were reported, and 570 on Tuesday. The sudden spurt has meant that till October 22, we have already had an increase of 25% in stubble burning cases over 3,214 cases reported in the corresponding period last year. Overall, 2018 saw 50,000 cases, which was a 10% fall over 2017.
The week’s development, so far, corelates with the trend every Diwali (it was much later in the calendar last year) as surveillance comes to near-zero due to holidays. The impact of the stubble burning is that much more this time of the year as Diwali crackers exacerbate the pollution and the damage to the environment.
Paddy sown early
The state agriculture department claims that harvest started early this year as paddy sowing had also begun early. Each year, 200 lakh tonne straw is produced, of which only 50 lakh tonne is used ex-situ (without transport) as fodder and in biomass plant, the rest is vulnerable to be burnt.
“We have to be careful for the next 7-10 days as there will be a spurt in cases, which will impact our environment,” said director remote sensing department, Brijendra Pateriya. Agriculture secretary Kahan Singh Pannu said, “My department is making efforts to motivate farmers to ensure that stubble burning stops. We must ensure strict compliance with the law.”
Half of paddy has been harvested
Nearly half of the paddy has been harvested, and 50 lakh tonne has arrived in mandis, with 170 lakh tonne expected to arrive in a short span of next ten days. “Within 10 days, we expect the entire paddy crop to be harvested. Then, paddy stubble burning is also expected to peak, due to the short window left between the harvest and the sowing of wheat,” said an officer with the agriculture department.
The cases of burning are rising despite the fact that the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a central body that came into existence in 2010, to deal with cases related to environment conservation, has pointedly referred to the ‘unhappy situation that has persisted over five years’. There is little sign of relief even as Centre started a two-year scheme in 2018 that provided Rs 1,150 crore to the three paddy growing states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh for in-situ management of stubble through the use of machines by giving subsidy between 50-80%. Of the total outlay, Punjab received Rs 665 crore.